Mapping Desire: Geographies of Sexualities

Mapping Desire: Geographies of Sexualities

Mapping Desire: Geographies of Sexualities

Mapping Desire: Geographies of Sexualities

Synopsis

This is the first book to explore sexualities from a geographical perspective. The nature of place and notions of space are of increasing centrality to cultural and social theory. Mapping Desire presents the rich and diverse world of contemporary sexuality, exploring how the heterosexual body has been appropriated and resisted on the individual, community and city scales. The geographies presented here range across Europe, America, Australasia, Africa, the Pacific and the imaginary, cutting across city and country and analysing the positions of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and heterosexuals. The contributors ring different interests and approaches to bear on theoretical and empirical material from a wide range of sources. The book is divided into four sections: cartographies/identities; sexualised spaces: global/local; sexualised spaces: local/global; sites of resistance. Each section is separately introduced. Beyond the bibliography, an annotated guide to further reading is also provided to help the reader map their own way through the literature.

Excerpt

The 'sex lines' listed in this advert (Plate 1.1) from London's free gay paper Boyz mark one way in which we can read the space of a city as sexed and sexualised: as Paul Hallam (1993) discusses in The Book of Sodom, London's streets are a powerful source of (homo)erotic imagery. in one sense, then, the landscapes of desire which this book seeks to address are the eroticised topographies-both real and imagined-in which sexual acts and identities are performed and consummated. This book might not be the best or only way to 'Discover the truth about sex in the city', but it should at least provide an introduction to ways in which the spaces of sex and the sexes of space are being mapped out across the contemporary social and cultural terrain.

Of course, the London Boys telling and selling their tales over the phone will not have the same meaning for everyone. We need to think about locally sexualised spaces-what Stephen Pfohl (1993:192) calls '"vernacular" erotic geographies'-if we are going to avoid doing violence to the multitude of experiences and expressions of 'sex' in 'space'. Consider the sharp contrast between the London Boys advert and the two drawings of 'home' also shown here (and, indeed, the sharp contrast between those two homes). These pictures (Plates 1.2, 1.3), from research by Lynda Johnston on New Zealand lesbians' feelings about home (reported later in the book in a collaborative chapter with Gill Valentine), give us a very complex representation of the divided space of the (heterosexual) 'family home' and what might be called (in the rhetoric of the UK's anti-gay Section 28 legislation) the lesbian and gay 'pretended family' home. Through subtle signifiers of heteronormativity ('Dad' washing the car, 'Mum' in the kitchen), the family home (Plate 1.2) is depicted as a place of walls, of separation, but also of surveillance and discipline (see also Colomina 1992 on the architecture of domestic space).

The 'pretended family' home, however, is a very different image (Plate 1.3): instead of the people being lost in the space of the home, their bodies almost constitute the home, with only a sketched roof above to offer shelter. But what is perhaps more remarkable

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